Assaults on hospital staff a growing problem, Ballarat magistrate says

Assaults on hospital staff are significant and are a growing problem, a Ballarat magistrate has said.

Ron Saines made the comments as he sentenced a woman who pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful assault at the Ballarat Magistrates Court on Thursday.

The court was told Adele Partington was charged with the offence relating to an incident at Ballarat Health Services Base Hospital on January 29, 2017.

Police prosecutor Leading Senior Constable Clint Prebble said the accused was taken to the hospital’s emergency department, escorted by police.

After police left the hospital, she became abusive towards staff and was sedated and restrained in a bed. However her left hand became free from the bed.

Leading Senior Constable Prebble said the accused became verbally abusive towards hospital staff a second time.

He said the victim was standing at the foot of the bed as staff tried to restrain her free hand. The victim attempted to move Partington but she squeezed his genitals for a short time.

Leading Senior Constable Prebble said the victim yelled out in pain. He said there were no injuries but the victim was in pain for one hour.

Partington was released from the hospital before police arrived to interview her, but she was arrested months later and interviewed.

Partington told police after waking up from being sedated she was scared and grabbed the nearest thing.

Defence lawyer Wendy Duncan provided the court with confidential documents on her client.

In responding to the documents, Mr Saines said there were a number of mitigating factors pertaining to Partington’s moral culpability.

He said he was considering sentencing Partington to a good behaviour bond without conviction but told her the offending was serious.

“The assault of people who work in our hospital system is significant and a growing problem,” Mr Saines said.

“We saw this year a doctor at Box Hill killed.”

Mr Saines said Partington’s capability to make a judgement at the time of the offending was reduced due to a number of factors that were not made public in the court.

“This is conduct that is uncharacteristic of you,” Mr Saines said.

He sentenced Partington to a 12-month good behaviour bond without conviction and ordered her to pay $500 to the court fund.